Aristida stricta Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
Wiregrass is a perennial bunch grass that grows in clumps, usually under an open canopy of mature longleaf pines. This grass is an important food for gopher tortoises and quail and provides valuable cover for many birds, reptiles, and small mammals.
Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
The longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystem is one of the most endangered ecosystems in the United States. Prior to European settlement, the longleaf pine ecosystem once covered almost 90 million acres stretching nearly unbroken from southeastern Virginia to east Texas. but little remains today. Today only 2.7 million acres, or less than 3% of this ecosystem remains.
Longleaf pine savannah is a fire dependent ecosystem, but the pines themselves do not produce enough fuel to sustain a fire, rather it is the wiregrass that produces most of the fuel for the fires that maintain the ecosystem.
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